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Author of the Month

Name: Will Carver

First Novel:

Most Recent Book: Good Samaritans

'‘Good Samaritans’ is electrifying.'

Synopsis:
Seth Beauman can’t sleep. He stays up late, calling strangers from his phone book, hoping to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps upstairs. A crossed wire finds a suicidal Hadley Serf on the phone to Seth, thinking she is talking to the Samaritans.

But a seemingly harmless, late-night hobby turns into something more for Seth and for Hadley, and soon their late-night talks become day-time meet-ups. And then this dysfunctional love story develops into something altogether darker, when Seth brings Hadley home...

Review:
You can tell how good a writer is by how different their novels are from each other. Will Carver is the author of the DI January David series. ‘Good Samaritans’ is a standalone thriller and is a complete contrast. It’s dark, edgy, disturbing, shocking and sexy. It’s also highly original and one of the best thrillers of the year.

Carver wastes no time in plunging us into the lives of Seth Beauman and his wife Maeve; a couple living a steady, safe, and boring existence. Seth has insomnia and spends the hours of darkness phoning strangers hoping for someone to talk to. The anxiety and stress caused by sleeplessness is wonderfully explored and I speak from 17 years as an insomniac.

Seth and Maeve are a likeable couple. They could be your colleagues, your next-door neighbours. When desperate Hadley Serf enters their lives (another likeable character) our allegiances are divided. Then comes the first twist.

Will Carver has taken risks with ‘Good Samaritans’ and they all pay off in a fine dramatic style. There are a couple of sex scenes that could have been embarrassing and awkward written by a lesser author, but these are steamy and tantalising. Half way through, the direction of the novel changes. What you’d expect to come at the end, hits you when you least expect it and I defy any reader not to stay up late to finish this.

‘Good Samaritans’ is electrifying. Cancel all plans when you start this book and warn those around you; any interruptions may cause them harm. You need to read this book.

Reviewed by: M.W.

CrimeSquad Rating



Questionnaire

1) This is a huge departure from your DI January David series. Were you worried about writing something so different?
Between each of the January David books, I wrote something that wasn’t related to his story. I think it’s great to get away because it’s fresh when you return to that world. I had three more books planned in that series but after ‘Dead Set’ was published, the last thing I wanted to do was write more January David.

So, no, I wasn’t worried about trying to write something different. In fact, after ‘Dead Set’ - still worth a read, by the way, Eames is one of my favourite characters I’ve ever written. And Audrey - I wrote a stand-alone thriller about a Detective Sergeant Pace. I also wrote two books that were not in the crime genre. (I was on a bit of a Bukowski high at this time. These will probably never see the light of day but I’m fairly sure it’s the best my writing has been.)

I wanted to get away from that series so much. I was never worried about writing something different because I always try to write something different.

‘Good Samaritans’ didn’t even start life as a crime novel. Detective Pace wasn’t in the first draft. But it wasn’t January David and that was just fine by me.
2) While reading, I kept getting reminders of the film ‘Fight Club’. Did that influence you in any way?
I’ve said it before but that book (the film is an incredibly faithful adaptation, too) changed my life. I couldn’t believe that somebody was allowed to write like that. I thought I was going to be a poet or a playwright, but ‘Fight Club’ made me think I could write a book. That I should write a book.

I keep a copy of ‘Fight Club’ by my laptop when I write. And I dip into it on moments where the blank page stares back it me. It makes me try harder, gives me a level to aim for.

So, yes, it influences me all the time. I love the style of the writing, the voice, and the bravery to tackle the darker subjects.

I know both stories feature an insomniac but that part wasn’t influenced by ‘Fight Club’, that came from my own struggle with sleep.

It’s the biggest compliment you could give me, to make comparisons with Chuck Palahniuk. I’m not sure he would be as thrilled, though.
3) One of the talking points of this book is going to be the explicit sex scenes. From one writer to another, how difficult is it writing sex well?
Sex is messy. There’s fluids and body parts flapping about and slapping together. There are noises and words spoken. People don’t usually wear clothes. Sometimes they do. Sometimes it lasts a while and is slow and passionate. And sometimes you pull your underwear to the side and do it up against a door frame. And I don’t think it works to shy away from that.

I think writing sex becomes difficult when you try to sanitise it or hold back. You get a stilted scene that can come off as comical.

But I think I have an open and healthy view of sex in real life, which must translate to the page. I don’t see it as a dirty thing that shouldn’t be spoken about. Is it explicit to say that a guy’s dick is hard, during sex? Of course not. Would a woman put her hand between her legs to help that orgasm on its way? Yes. It’s not like I was talking about ribbling or docking or shrimping, the sex was normal in its description and was appropriate to the characters, and it drove the story. It wasn’t there for shock or gratuity.

So, no, I don’t find it difficult. If I’m writing a sex scene and I don’t feel turned on, then I know I’m getting it wrong.
4) This is a very pacy novel and I read it in two sittings. How long did it take you to write, and was it your intention to make it such a fast read?
In my first series of books, I always started with a theatrical set-piece - the woman suspended above a stage by fishing wire, seemingly floating, or a dead body in a kneeling position outside a church. Then we hopped from one piece to another before being hit by a fat twist at the end.

I wanted ‘Good Samaritans’ to be different. A slow build until halfway then BANG, this isn’t the book you thought it was. And the second half would speed to the end. That was my intention and I think I largely succeeded with that pacing.

I spend a lot of time thinking about rhythm so that the pages are read in the way I intend them to be read - short sentences and broken lines. (I was reading through something I’d written the other day and checking the rhythm of the paragraph. My girlfriend asked me what I was doing - I was making a noise. Apparently, I hum/croak the tempo as I read. I didn’t realise I did that.)

I always spend a long time with the first 20,000 words of a book, to get the set-up right. That takes four weeks. I then tend to finish the rest in another eight weeks. ‘Good Samaritans’ took an extra few months because I changed the points of view halfway through. And added a detective. So, this one took me half a year. But I am not writing full-time at the moment.

Also, by only writing 1,000 words per day, I could make my chapters about that length. I didn’t have the time or room to ramble. Every word had to count. That kept the pace up.
5) How do you approach your novel writing? Are you a plotter or do you see where your characters take you?
I’m not a plotter. I know the beginning and the end of the book. (Usually.) The characters take me the rest of the way and fill up the middle.

Every chapter has to have one pertinent piece of information and I will roughly plot 3-5 chapters at a time but only a few lines plus that one important point.

I write a lot of the book by hand. Yes, I can type fast but I think it’s important to still write with a pen. Everyone is texting and Tweeting and using emoji to convey mood, it’s great to scribble a biro across some paper. You know?

That said, one of the most important things to me is the way in which a story is told. It doesn’t make sense to write the same way for each book. (Although more so with a series.) First person, third person, forwards, backwards, flashbacks, linear, non-linear. I like to experiment with everything to find the best way to get the story across, so this does require some plotting. So, yes, I plot a little but I’m more driven by the characters.
6) What’s next up for Will Carver?
This is currently in a state of flux. I had a book almost finished and deleted it. I have since rewritten half of what I destroyed but I am putting it on the back burner to focus on another story I have been working on that my agent has described as ‘bonkers’. All I can say is that it involves and elderly man who thinks he is dead, two kidnappers pretending to be angels, an injured sportsman who sees the world in black and white (apart from his nurse, who is in colour), and a man on a tube strapped to a bomb.

But it could be something else. I have a couple of other ideas that I want to explore. I know it’s vague but I followed up ‘Girl 4’ with the wrong book and I don’t want to make that mistake again.

What I can say is that it is going to be different. And undoubtedly dark. It may involve Detective Sergeant Pace, it may be my revenge story.

Did I mention that I was away from the book world for five years?
I was writing books that entire time.
I have something of a back-catalogue to work through.
Can you ask me again after Christmas?
7) Are you a fan of crime fiction? If so, which three crime novels would you like with you if stranded on a desert island?
I had read very little crime fiction before I was published. Then I read a book by every crime writer I met. It felt like a lot. And I’m not sure they were reading mine. I’m very selective now. I’ll always choose psychological over procedural and I like a book that has something ‘other’. I do watch a lot of crime, though. Procedural stuff, too.

If I was stranded on a desert island, I’d take ‘The Huge Inflatable Book Of Crime’, ‘The Criminally Good Desert Island Cook Book’ and ‘The Giant Crime Compendium’, which I believe is 5000 pages long and printed on very soft toilet paper.

Okay. Maybe I’d take The Complete Sherlock Holmes. There’s a lot there and rereads are very welcome. The Talented Mr Ripley still remains one of the best things I’ve read. And I’d probably take In Cold Blood because I’ve never read it but I feel like I would love it. It would be nice to have something new if I’m stuck on an island by myself.